16Humanising the Digital: A Cautionary View of the Future

Ian J. Ewart

16.1 Introduction

Forecasting the future of technology is fraught with difficulty, and we can easily look to the recent past and previous predictions of the future to judge the likelihood of getting it right. This is especially true now, as we find ourselves in the midst of a digital revolution, when digital technologies are changing so quickly that adoption in any specific sphere, such as the architecture, engineering and construction (ACE) industries, struggles to come to terms with one technology before it is superseded or becomes obsolete. Digital technologies are auxiliary to the practices of design and construction, which depend ultimately on the skills and activities of people engaging with their material environment. External drivers, emanating from the entertainment and communication industries, have meant that, to date, much of the use of digital technology in AEC has been based on adopting developments from outside the industry and trying make them fit into existing practices. This has created the position we now find ourselves, of constantly chasing the latest technology, rushed forward with limited attention, without the time to allow it to mature and disseminate throughout a heterogonous industry.

My suggestion in this chapter is that the digital future in AEC has to be more ‘human’ than ‘technological’. We will need to account more seriously for the human experience of the digital world, ...

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